Yankees Ninth Inning Single Propels Win, Jeter Slowly Returning to Play
With the bases loaded at the bottom of the ninth inning and a 2-2 game, the New York Yankees (47-39) had the bases loaded and needed just one run to defeat the Baltimore Orioles (48-39). Mission accomplished as Vernon Wells walked out the mound and hit the game-winning single.
This came as the player has struggled but he was coming off a good series against the Minnesota Twins (36-47). Yankees manager Joe Girardi let Wells start on Friday but even with the clutch single, he’s only hitting .235.
The game really belonged to Yankees pitcher Ivan Nova (3-2), who pitched his first complete career game. While on the mound until the ninth, Nova had given up a two-run homer to Matt Wieters back in the second inning but then shut down the Orioles for the remainder of the game.
He gave up three hits with 11 strikeouts and one walk in the outing.
For Nova, he’s also faced his own challenges this season. He lost his starting spot in the rotation after getting off to a rough start early in the season; he also spent some time on the disabled list. Nova got the starting nod on Friday in place of scheduled starter righty Hiroki Kuroda (7-6).
Nova said of Friday’s game via MLB.com, “I was positive the whole night. I knew that we were going to win at some point. I told a couple of the guys, It’s impossible that I can pitch that way, the first time, and lose the game.'”
The Yankees have now won five straight games. Earlier in the week, they swept the Twins in a four-game series. They now sit six games behind the division-leading Boston Red Sox (54-34) and 1.5 games behind the Orioles.
It was just one week ago that Baltimore swept the Yankees on their home field in a three-game series. What a difference a week can make.
This series will continue on Saturday with Yankees veteran lefty Andy Pettitte ( 5-6) taking the mound vs. Orioles righty Chris Tillman (10-2). While New York will look for its sixth consecutive win, good luck against Tillman as he’s won eight straight games.
But the Yankees are hot and will get the win on Saturday (-109, 9 0/u).
Meanwhile, it’s been a long offseason for New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter with his broken ankle but he is on the mend. He has received clearance for a minor-league rehab stint.
It will begin on Saturday with Jeter playing Triple-A ball with the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. He is expected to play for a minimum of five innings.
This should be interesting as Jeter will need to shake off some rust. He broke his ankle on Oct. 13, 2012 for the opening AL game and underwent surgery for it in the offseason. He returned to play for five spring training games earlier this year but stopped thanks to soreness.
Then on April 18, a new break in the ankle had been discovered. Jeter is yet to play in a 2013 regular season game.
Yankees manager Girardi said of Jeter’s pending play via ESPN.com, “That’s really good news. That obviously means his ankle feels a lot better. He’s been dying to get out there since spring training and he’s had some setbacks. But this is a really good sign.”
In Jeter’s absence, the team has missed his offense. The Yankees’ shortstop pinch hitters including Luis Cruz, Jayson Nix and Eduardo Nunez, have just batted .205, which has included two home runs over 85 games. This represents the third-worst OPS for the shortsstop role in all of the league when playing as the main starter, reported ESPN.
With the All-Star game nearing, sans any setbacks, the Yankees hope to see Jeter return to MLB action after the break.
Looking ahead to the fall, New York is +2000 to win this year’s World Series.